Valve made Half-Life: and it was good. Gearbox made Opposing Force: and it was also good. Valve and Sierra decided that Half-Life would be good on the Dreamcast: but it needed better graphics, and perhaps some bonus content. Thus Gearbox made updated models and a new episode of Half-Life, called Blue Shift. It would feature a character based upon the lovable security guards found throughout the facility; nicknamed Barnies. Barney Calhoun's name would carry enough weight to one day be applied to the Half-Life 2 Barney
Then someone decided that the Dreamcast wasn't so good, and the DC version of Half-Life was only leaked online. Meanwhile, as the pc owner fans got pissed over the fact that console users would be getting a new section of Half-Life and they weren't, which culminated in some worthless waste of flesh, with absolutely no life (hint: he spends his free time making looks back on Half-Life games) to make an ONLINE PETITION to drum up support for a PC conversion. Apparently between this and the DC version getting canned, the powers that be said yes and Blue Shift was ported to the PC. I don't feel so bad about making that online petition now. :)
Anywho, Blue Shift, being generated as a bonus episode, was VERY short and featured no new weapons or monsters. It WAS however extremely concise and meaty for what it was. There was very little fluff or wasted space in Blue Shift.
For this review, I'll be using Blue Shift: Unlocked instead of Valve's Steam version; mainly because the Steam version is full of bugs. You can get Blue Shift: Unlocked from http://www.hl-improvement.com
- Living Quarters Outbound-
So here were are heading in from the dormitories to Area 3 security. The updated models really improve upon things here, with scientists out of lab coats, security guards out of their armor and just more detail in general. Otis from Op4 gets a cameo or two here, as does Freeman. As you bang on the door to get into the security area, Freeman's tram passes you by. Although in Half-Life that SG had armor on and Barney most certainly doesn't. :D
So we hear all about how things are malfunctioning today, and just how poorly the scientists treat the security guards. (Though I really don't think the security guards are supposed to be responsible for keeping the computer systems running: if they remake Half-Life, they need some maintenance personnel and maybe some deskjob administration type guys as well.
In the video survaliance room you can see both Freeman as he walks through Sector C, as well as Gina Cross as she wheels the cart with the sample into the anomalous materials lab. Also, with the HD pack, the old Glock turns into a berretta.
Now, as you may remember, Gearbox had me maintain an FAQ for Opposing Force, and while I've never gotten confirmation from Gearbox about this, in the locker room of Blue Shift, one of the lockers says Dunn while the rest have the names of Gearbox members. As far as I can tell, there's never been anyone named Dunn at Gearbox (at least when Blue Shift was made) so it's quite possible that it's a reference to me. Probably not, but maybe I should ask 'em about it one of these days. :D
The only Gman sighting in the game is made in this chapter. Calhoun is forced to wait as the Gmans tram goes past him.
So the catastrophe happens and Barney is called into duty; he is quickly informed that the canals are the best way to the surface, and finds a shotgun (Now a SPAS12, instead of whatever it was before) on his way. Again we see a “Warning Sign” puzzle. “Keep explosive materials out of canal.” I shudder to think why they thought they needed that sign. :D
The new zombies bear a closer resemblance to how they look once they become Gonomes, with green stuff growing off them and a much more defines chest-mouth. We hear a reference to Shephard towards the end of this chapter, with a pair of grunts complaining about the duties of corpse disposal being dumped on them since Shephard's team didn't make it.
After killing some soldiers, a dying scientist named Harold tells Calhoun to looking for a Dr. Rosenberg in order to escape. The MP5 is gotten in this chapter, except that it's now an M4, which is ironic as that doesn't use 9mm ammo. :D
Dr. Rosenberg is an interesting character; he's one of the original scientists who developed teleporter technology, from back before even the Lambda Complex was built. Instead of trying to stop the invasion, however, he just wants to escape. After bringing Calhoun to the prototype labs, he reveals his plan to allow Calhoun, himself, and a pair of scientists named Walter (Probably intended to be a reference to the PHL character Walter Bennet), and Simmons to teleport out away from Black Mesa.
Interstingly enough, the “Xen relay” from HL2 make a sort of appearance in this chapter. Rosenberg tells how during the development of teleportion, Xen was discovered as part of the process. Using the old technology, they designed a relay that could be used to reflect a teleport back to Earth, but it was dropped when other ways of aiming the beam were discovered. Of course, they have to use the old way if they want to use the tech in the prototype labs, and to do that something has to go to Xen. Guess who gets vollenteered. :)
Ah, the obligatory Xen level. It's interesting to note that Captive Freight, Focal Point and Power Struggle are all circular; where at the end of the chapter you wind up towards the beginning.
There's an interesting secret in this chapter, based around the fan favorite “Chumtoad” Chumtoad's Lair is hard to get to, but you're rewarded with snarks so it's often worth the trip.
One of the great mysterious of Half-Life is the yellow crystals. They started the cascade, fed the Nihilanth, were used in weapons that hurt the Geneworm, and are used in this Xen Relay Emitter thingy. They're obviously useful in teleportion, but I have to wonder what they really are. My favorite theory is that they're actually the physical manifestation of intradimension entities, who through the Gman, set races upon each other in order to ammuse themselves.
Of course, it can't be as simple as align the emitter and go home: no, the power cell has been depleted and Calhoun has to refill it. :D This section features a few neat puzzles (Like using a metal barrel to fill in for a missing section of wire, and make a bridge out of floating canisters.)
-A Leap of Faith-
So we get it charged and it's time for the final showdown. Unlike Half-Life and Op4, there is no “boss battle” just a bunch of marines who get in the way of you the last teleport. Upon jumping into the teleporter, you get caught in a “Infinate Harmonic Reflux” and end up teleporting all over the place, from the escape site, to xen, to some closet someplace where you get to witness the two marines drag off Freeman. Surprisingly, it's a lot similar to what happens to Freeman when he first teleports in HL2.
Anywho, Calhoun returns to the escape site much to everyones relief. Rosenberg, Calhoun, Walter and Simmons all escape. Subject out of range: no comment. At the end of Half-Life 2, Barney is listed as being Barney Calhoun, so one would think that it is indeed the Barney from Blue Shift. Nice to know how he's still alive.